Several years ago, I went through a period of self-exploration because after a series of misunderstanding others…and being misunderstood myself. In so doing, I did come to the realization that somewhere along the way I had become lost. Not lost in the sense of being spiritually adrift…although there was a component of that at work. And certainly not lost in terms of going through the routines that my life had become what defined me more than anything. I just knew that I had no idea who I was anymore. The Karen that I thought I was didn't resemble the one that was going through the motions every day.
Oh, I had been growing as a person in some ways, had let some dreams go by the wayside, and was constantly just expending a ridiculous amount of energy trying to keep the ship on course. I'd have made less of a mess had I taken time to make sure that I was headed in the direction that God…or even I intended. I suppose that having time to think and reflect is not particularly unusual for a woman after her children stop demanding so much of her time or when she gets to a point where she just realizes that some things must be accepted rather than railed against. And that other things that have been accepted really need to be changed.
Perhaps it was simply that I noticed the wreckage of broken dreams and promises along the pathway of my life. I saw that the person that was so relieved of breaking some old negative patterns had let other new ones crop up in areas that I least expected. Maybe it was that realization that my journey here on Earth is halfway over at best. Or perhaps what I thought was so important just crumble to a pile of nothingness in my hands enough times to convince me that I needed to find myself again.
I don’t know what started it and it matters not. But I do remember taking an inventory of my life at that time. I found that there were things I’d forgotten about…and things that I’d depleted that could never be replaced again. But it was what it was.
I’d like to tell you that I was inspired by a sermon…because I’ve been inspired by many in my life. But to tell you that would be untrue. It was just that I apparently woke up one day and thought to myself, “Is this all?”
I simply realized that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was burned out. Tired. Not enjoying the best of life and barely surviving the worst. I had tried to be the best I could be at everything when I thought it was possible to do it all…and ended up exhausting myself trying to move the needle on the dial to excellent from very good. See, I was under the impression that you can live up to your best self in your own strength. Work harder. Stay later. Do more than is expected. I mean…you can be anything that you truly want to be, right?
Well, I am here to tell you that you can’t. Not in your own strength. Not even remotely.
What carried over from that period in my life was that I constantly check myself to make sure that I stay aware of ME. Some things have never changed about me such as my preferences for mint chocolate ice cream over just about all others and that I’d really rather be at the beach than just about anywhere else. That I hate hospitals and do all that I can to avoid them…so if I ever visit you in one…consider it a real gift. I learned that my favorite colors are green and pink but that I am partial to just about every color for some reason or another. I love Jelly Belly buttered popcorn jelly beans, romantic comedies, and Jesus. I prefer reading, scrapbooking and watching SEC football to just about anything outdoors. However, I see God's handiwork in the creation every day of my life and I never cease to be amazed by it.
I also am the person you want on your side if you are being treated poorly, I am above average in doing what I say that I’m going to do, and I hate doing any form of housework. I like to cook, love crowds, and only like rock and alternative music. Cantatas, bluegrass, and show tunes are to avoided at all costs.
I count steps, daydream, and cannot kick my love for Reese’s peanut butter cups in spite of aversion therapy I tried several years ago. It did work with Jack Daniel’s, by the way…and now I rarely drink alcohol at all. I realized that I couldn’t care less about dressing to impress…I am more a comfort girl who prefers things that take virtually no maintenance. I don’t own a closet full of shoes…I’ve left that to my mother and daughter. I don’t have a beautifully decorated home…I have a comfortable one. I’m Chinet over china and paper over cloth. And I seriously doubt that anyone really sits around and reflects on how sad it is that I am the way I am.
And if they do…then they are obviously very bored. But enough about me.
I mention all of this because I am currently basking in the afterglow of a perfect weekend. It was the kind of weekend that you not only look forward to and then back upon fondly…but one in which you know it is special while you are living it. I have found that few things ever meet our expectations…much less exceed them…and that most of us hardly know that we are living the best of times when we actually are.
But I knew this weekend. I was also reminded that God is good.
Not just because I was in the company of friends who make me want to be a better person. And not because I was the filling between two generations of wonderful women that I love dearly. Not because the weather was perfect, the house was amazing or because it has been way too long since I actually ventured outside.
Simply, I was reminded that God is good.
I saw my now grown daughter spend her 21st birthday in the company of women old enough to be her mothers...by her choice. She was allowed to bring a friend...and she chose my mother.
I saw that nature has indeed corrected itself and all that remains of a horrific oil spill is an occasional tar ball and the sight of people who relentlessly try to fish them out of the water in an effort to bring back the beauty and the tourists.
I witnessed people using their God-given abilities to sing gospel music…a genre that is not my favorite. But I was inspired and blessed just the same. The praise flowed and the words of a preacher totally sold-out for God were enough to raise my spirits and give me sufficient spiritual food for reflection.
I saw God’s creativity shown differently in five different women: a painter, a writer, a decorator, an actress, and a crafter.
I learned that it is possible to stay in a place that is so peaceful, so comfortable, and so wonderful that you honestly wish you never had to leave.
Oh, I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that for three days in my recent past that there was nowhere else on earth that I would have rather been. We prayed. We talked. We laughed hysterically. We dreamed. We hoped. We enjoyed each other’s company and our time away from the stresses of life.
In short, we experienced a little taste of heaven on earth. And that time away keeps the cords that sometimes get tangled up with busyness and the daily business of living free and independent. It keeps me grounded in knowing who I am and whose I am. It reminds me that I am not alone when I struggle, and that there are ways that God has chosen to work through me that are used to add to the happiness of other people.
For this…and the wonderful generosity of a sweet friend who provided us with a beautiful place to be together, food to nourish our bodies, and prayers to feed our souls…I am grateful. Very grateful.